The blog “Union Organizer,” maintained by a Los Angeles-based “International Lead Organizer” for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) named Bob Oedy (see his web site at www.unionorganizer.com), appears to have broken the news story on the web that the National Labor College is selling its Silver Spring, Maryland campus (just outside of Washington, D.C.) and dedicating itself exclusively to on-line instruction and degrees.
His blog is also the only place I could find on the web that posted this official April 9, 2012 announcement: Email Statement of President Paula E. Peinovich of National Labor College/George Meany Center. Mr. Oedy is a graduate of the National Labor College with a B.A. in Labor Studies.
I first became aware of the existence of the National Labor College when I learned about a senior thesis entitled “Unrelenting Pursuit of the Non-Signatory Electrical Contractors in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $11 Billion of Construction Work: Subscription Agreements.” To complete her requirements for a B.A. in Labor Studies at the National Labor College in 2004, a compliance official for IBEW Local 11 named Diana Limon wrote about how this Los Angeles-based IBEW local union compels non-union electrical contractors of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to make their employer payments for fringe benefits to IBEW-affiliated trust funds, as they are required to do under the school district’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA). As you can see from this July 7, 2004 article on the IBEW web site, IBEW Local 11 officials actively used the National Labor College program.
I was unable to find ANY references whatsoever on the National Labor College web site about the closing of the physical campus, nor any hints that the college might soon lose its “accreditation.” A web site called Inside Higher Education reported on the closure on April 10. (See “National Labor College Will Sell Its Campus” and read the comments too.) The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on April 16 that “labor historians” were concerned that a “Key Labor Archive May Be Inaccessible After Labor College Sells Campus.” The May 3 Washington Times triumphantly reported “Big Labor Forced to Sell Its Only College” and declared the move to be “the latest sign of the fast-shrinking Big Labor movement.”
My personal opinion is that most post-secondary education providers – including the ones described as “colleges” – don’t need a physical campus and don’t need to submit to the indignities of any accreditation system either. Why would hard-core union ideologues feel the need to conform to the trappings of corporatized higher education? It reminds me of young Occupy Wall Street activists who condemn corporations but seem blind to how the government-academia complex gave them empty and meaningless educations at outrageous prices.
If certain union officials or union activists want “prestige” associated with their education in Labor Studies or Union Organizing, they can simply use one of the dozens of biased, taxpayer-funded labor studies programs based at state universities across the country, such as the University of California Miguel Contreras Labor Program or the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.